Talk:Maximum power principle

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I have submitted this page to C.A.S.Hall, who has given a first report back that it "looks ok". If it is original research, it is only original in the clarity of exposition of the principle. I have not seen any treatments that give both a table and graph of the data in the ecological literature, however it is implied in Costanza's work in Introduction to ecological economics. The Jackson text gives the details in reference to electronic circuits, and I have borrowed from Jackson's exposition with appropriate citation. Sholto Maud 23:47, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

JIP | Talk 19:30, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Fourth law of thermodynamics? Seriously, WTF..[edit]

The idea in the article sounds philosophical at best, crank science at worst. Its application to sociology/evolutionary theory may perhaps be valid. But please, leave physics out of it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Alfred Noble? Hoax?[edit]

Can anyone give any evidence that there is an Alfred Noble prize? --DrTorstenHenning 09:56, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Should have guessed that it is already on WP ... Still, I could not find evidence that this particular individual was awarded the prize. Can anyone knowledgeable perhaps add the year? --DrTorstenHenning 14:50, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
  • "While serving with the Air Force during World War II, Dr. Tribus developed thermal ice protection equipment for aircraft. For his accomplishments in this field he recieved the Thurman H. Bane Award from the Institute of Aero-Space Sciences and the Wright Brother's Medal from the Society of Automotive Engineers. He was also given the Alfred Noble Prize as a joint awared from seven societies" (Back dust cover, M. Tribus, 1961, Thermodynamics and Thermostatics: An Introduction to Energy, Information and States of Matter, with Engineering Applications, D. Van Nostrand Company Inc., 24 West 40 Street, New York 18, New York, U.S.A.) Sholto Maud 23:11, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Move to max power principle[edit]

I think this article would be better named Maximum power principle and a redirect page pointing to both Max Power theorem and Max Power principle added. --Pfafrich 23:03, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

What is a Wiki researcher?[edit]

And why should "Wiki researchers" be interested in mashing established theorems with non-established principles? I think this page should become a simple redirect page to the maximum power theorem and to the maximum power principle. Any "formal analogies" can be treated separately once the latter has been defined properly. --DrTorstenHenning 12:56, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

I suppose you could classify Wiki users into those that read (Wiki reader), those that contribute (Wiki editor), and those that do further research in order to contribute (Wiki researchers). In order to provide a proper definition of maximum power "principle" one needs to establish why the "maximum power theorem" has the status of a "theorem", and further, when the definition of such a theorem can or cannot be applied to systems other than electronics. There is also, therefore, a need to properly define the distinctions between "laws" (i.e. thermodynamics etc.), "theorems" (i.e. electronics & mathematical logic) and "principles" (i.e. energetics & ecology); where does a theorem begin and a law end? As it stands, the notion of "maximum power theorem" is a logically improper use of the term "theorem" - unless one assumes some kind of "formal ontology". "Wiki researchers" might be interested in clarifying such things, and, for example, why the entry on mathematical physics has no mention of the role and development of theorems. Sholto Maud 22:46, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Quality standards[edit]

I need some help, and direction as to where the sentential quality might be amplified. Sholto Maud 06:16, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

  • I the absence of any help I propose to delete the quality standards tag. Sholto Maud 12:01, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I still find the article difficult to understand. Apparently no one is willing (or able) to offer help in improving this article. Nevertheless, the article is sill confusing, and the quality standards tag still is appropriate. Gerry Ashton 15:24, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Gerry. I find it difficult to know what to do... Without providing original research I cannot say much more than what others have already written.

Definition of "useful power"[edit]

With respects to the definition of "useful energy": I don't have books with me at the moment, but I believe that the rate of useful energy transformation is what is called "load power" in electronics, and the heat lost due to internal resistanc is not considered a "useful" output. Can you confirm this? Sholto Maud 01:36, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

You are right about "load power", which may also be called "output power". However, the definition of useful power depends on your point of view. An audio manufacturer might build a stereo amplifier that has an output power of 100 watts, and internal losses of 50 watts. But then, the amplifier is connected to a speaker that produces 10 watts of air movement, and wastes 90 watts. Finally, some tiny fraction of a watt is actually transferred to the ear of the listener, and almost all of the sound energy is turned into heat. So is the useful power 100 watts, 10 watts, or a tiny fraction of a watt? It's all a matter of perspective. Gerry Ashton 02:01, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
Thankyou again Gerry. As to definition of load power: I'm not sure whether there is a 1:1 correspondance of load power to output power. (If there was it would seem to imply 100% power efficiency - but maximum power theorem seems to suggest otherwise). Load power does seem to be part of output power, however the 'sound energy turned into heat' can also be quantified as output power, so both load power and sound energy turned into heat are a subset of output power. (If I am in error please correct). Energy engineering seems to attempt to capture some of this difference in outputs with the concpets of exergy and entropy.
I tend to agree that "usefulness" of power depends on POV. I think the general systems approach is to say that useful output of a system is scale-dependent such that; the 100watts is useful output with respects to the stereo amplifier system, the 10watts is the useful output of the speaker system, and the .000000...n watt is the useful output of the eardrum system. Maybe any hazyness suggests there needs to be a Wikipedia article specifically analysing & explaining concepts of useful energy & power. Sholto Maud 06:15, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Another question has come to mind: in an operational amplifier, is the feedback electrical energy classified as load power, output or input? Sholto Maud 06:44, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
The op amp manufacturer would consider the feedback energy to be output energy. The manufacturer of the device that the op amp is used in would consider the feedback energy to be wasted energy. Op amps are usually used in a way that their input impedance is very high, so the energy going to the signal input of the op amp is too small to worry about. Gerry Ashton 15:55, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
So if load power = output power, and feedback power = output power, then load power = feedback power. But load power also = "wasted power". What is "wasted power"? Entropy? Sholto Maud 06:17, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
Useful is a personal belief of a human being, and is influenced by the knowledge of the person who holds the belief. An engineer at Texas Instruments (TI) who is writing about the [LF412C] op amp would regard all the power that flows out of pin 1 as useful power, since the TI engineer does not know what will be done with the op amp, and as far as she knows, the power will be put to good use.
The design engineer who builds a circuit using a LF412C knows what the circuit does, and is able to classify some of the power coming out of pin 1 as useful, and the rest as waste. Waste power = total power - useful power.
In electronics, a load is something that is connected to an electronic "box", for example, a speaker is connected to a stereo. In the simple case where the load has no power of it's own, the load power is the power used by the load. For example, if a speaker uses 100 W, then the load power is 100 W. So load power is not equal to feedback power.
Another way to look at it is when you design something, you draw a box around some part of the universe. Depending on your perspective, you can include different parts of the universe inside your box. Load power is outside the box. Gerry Ashton 16:00, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Tribus definition of useful power in electronic circuits[edit]

Gerry, if you're still interested you can find the definition of useful power in Tribus' Thermodynamics and Thermostatics, p. 624, eqn. 16.12-4:

\dot{W} = 120{T_1}^2 Ve^{-(V+w_2 +(energy barrier))/kT_1}

Sholto Maud 22:19, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

I have Tribus sitting here on my desk and I cannot find this equation. I have a feeling your page numbers don't match my numbers as the pages in my edition are marked I-13 or os.

-- (talk) 16:08, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Dear User:,
I can verify that the book on my desk is the 1961 edition, and contains:
1. \dot{W} = 120{T_1}^2 Ve^{-(V+w_2 +(energy barrier))/kT_1} on p.624, eqn. 16.12-4, in section 16.12 The Thermoelectron Engine
2. reference to Odum & Pinkerton and "conclusions to be drawn therefrom" is on p.619, footnote 10, eqn. 16.11-5 onwards in section 16.11 Generalized Treatment of Linear Systems Used for Power Production.
3. Onsager's Rule and the Thermoelectron Engine is section 16.13.

Sholto Maud (talk) 23:20, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Ah, there's my problem, I have the 1960 edition. :( The layout must be entirely different.

-- (talk) 19:02, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Delete duplicate link[edit]

The "See also" section contained links to Emergy and Maximum empower, but the latter is a redirect to the former, so I am removing Maximum empower from the list.

Pseudoscience categorisation[edit]

I have removed the Pseudoscience categorisation. This is because the collaborator who posted the categorisation has gone on to say,

"Seems I may be wrong on Odum. My research did not find substantial reason to apply the label. Always happy to be corrected... Mccready 12:06, 27 August 2006 (UTC)"

on their user page. My view is that it would be good to discuss the formal categorisation of the maximum power principle. Until we have this discussion I'm not sure what category the article should have. Maybe none? Sholto Maud 10:34, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Needs a much improved lead-in.[edit]

I had to read way past the middle of the article before the principle itself is defined for the first time, as itself. That isn't that good. Ideally the first paragraph should give some outline of what the thing itself discussed is. The way the article is at this time, there is a lot of discussoin aobut the poeple involved in the promulgation of this theorem or hypotheses, but no real sketch of the principle itself. -- Cimon Avaro; on a pogostick. 00:04, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

You seem to make the assumption that the subject of this article is of (natural) scientific nature, which would imply that (i) the terms used are clearly defined, and (ii) that it is in principle independent of the people who are involved. Instead, we are dealing with an idea here, where (i) discussion about the implications is started even before people have agreed on a common definition as a starting point, (ii) most of the discussion revolves around quoting each other, and preferably some guru in the field, and (iii) theories are not put to experimental tests, because due to the lack of clear definitions no-one knows how to design an experiment. If this makes you wonder whether this stuff belongs in Wikipedia, you are not alone. --DrTorstenHenning 07:51, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
  • 1.Why not help improve the article? Propose here a restructuring....
  • 2.Dr Henning has been, I would suggest, a little over zealous in his evaluation. His personal point of view regarding the philosophy of science, it would seem, colors his theory about the role of Wikipedia. Verification is the fundamental principle of Wikipedia, and this article satisfies the verification principle. The theory is also notable and hence an entry is justified. Whether or not the majority of physicists or biologists or biophysicists agree on the applicability of the theory is moot. In fact I am not aware of any voting mechanism by which to count the number of people who disagree or agree.
  • 3. Not all terms in "(natural) science" are clearly defined.
  • 4. Not all terms in "(natural) science" are independent of the people, or technology involved.
  • 5. The notion that a physical principles originates as an idea is valid in the philosophy of science.
  • 6. Cost benefit evaluation of implications is valid form of assessing the merit of an idea and the justification of any testing.
  • 7. In peer review publication, verifiable referencing often involves "quoting each other".
  • 8. Assuming that maximum power is a theory that can be tested using an electronic circuit, then it has been tested, validated and verified. Math and tables given at: [1]
  • 9. Several theories that are not fully accepted or clearly defined, and on the "edge" of scientific knowledge have been the subject of Wikipedia articles, and they are valid entries.Sholto Maud 09:36, 29 October 2007 (UTC)


I added the NPOV tag because significant criticisms of the principle and of the entire field that produced it are not reported in the article. See Talk:Emergy#Neutrality. Flying Jazz Flying Jazz (talk) 17:04, 17 November 2007 (UTC)